It was in October 1997 that I first visited a prostitute. It was also in October 1997 that I should have realised too that my six and a bit year relationship with Sharon was never going to work - should have realised.....
It had been my day off and there had been no chores to do - just me, my thoughts, my fantasies and my lust.
That August I had turned forty and with it a feeling, a dread, that time was running out. I had been dumped twice by Sharon during the summer but on each occasion she had asked me back and because I loved her, was weak, I had taken her back. Yet my loyalty and devotion had seemed to mean nothing to her. In this miserable existence my only consolation was hedonism - the gratification of the senses.
Or was that, now reflecting back, just an excuse for my immoral behaviour. And is it not necessary to believe one's own lies all the more fully in order to deceive others more skilfully?
Perhaps another excuse would have been to say that I was in the grip of a mid-life crisis but the truth of the matter was that my whole fucking life had so far been a crisis: childhood anxiety merely morphing into teenage angst.
In the lounge of the town cottage I alone rented and occupied I had picked up a copy of the Daily Sport which a punter had given me from the day before and I had causally left on the arm of my settee. I had flicked through it before getting to the 'massage' ads near the back with one advertisement in particular catching my eye - a blonde 21 year old with a tanned 36-24-36 figure in Bournemouth.
Shaking, I had then rung the number.
A woman had answered to inform me that 'Tanya' was working and that there was no need to book. She had also given me the address.
I knew that what I was about to do, possibly about to do, was illicit yet it made the idea all the more exciting.
I had then worried that there was a chance that I would get caught, exposed, perhaps be prosecuted and be publicly shamed - I had openly and frequently, mouthed off moral platitudes, and had condemned infidelity. I was in a dilemma.
I had then taken a shiny two pence piece out of my pocket - tails I go, heads I don't. I had flicked the coin spinning up into the air before catching it with my right hand and slapping it down upon my the back of left hand. Gingerly I had then uncovered it - tails!
Without further ado I had caught a train to Brockenhurst and then one to Bournemouth.
On the train to Bournemouth a group of school children had boarded and in a moment of paranoid panic I had imagined them pointing me out and singing: "We know where you're going, we know where you're going!"
I'd managed to get a grip of myself whilst every second I neared my dirty destination and sordid liaison whilst on another level my excitement began to reach such a peak that I could feel my heart pounding.
Another wave of anxiety: What if I suffer a heart attack?
I'd visualised the headlines in the local paper: 'Respectable' Local Man Dies in Brothel - Humiliated Partner Never Knew. I could also hear the cutting wit of my colleagues: He went before he came!
And then I arrived - Pokesdown. The station had seemed rather aptly named. It had also put me in mind of a rough suburb of London.
I had then strolled out of the station and entered Boscombe High Street desperately attempting not to look like a bloke visiting a prostitute.
Having found the place I then double-checked the address I had written on a scrap of paper. Satisfied I had then pressed the buzzer.
As I waited at what felt like an eternity for the door to be opened I was sure that everyone passing by was looking at me with disgust. Just answer the fucking door I'd thought desperately.
And then a plain middle-aged woman had let me in and for a second I'd been disappointed: Surely, that can't be her?
"Tanya will be with you in a minute."
The 'receptionist' had then led me upstairs into a 'waiting' room presumably because Tanya was still with another client. There had been an attempt to tidy the place up but it was still run down - still felt sordid. On a table next to me were some porn magazines which I had picked up and flicked through.
About five minutes later Tanya, wearing a see-through and very skimpy lace top, had poked her head round the door. She was gorgeous: blonde, tanned shapely and beautiful. And for a moment she reminded me of another woman I kind of had a crush on at the time, Jane, though she was younger and a little prettier.
Tanya, who'd had a slight 'Brummie' accent (she informed me later that she was originally from Wolverhampton), asked me what I would like her to do for me.
I told her and she said: "Okay, it'll be seventy quid."
I'd handed her the notes and before she momentarily disappeared into a back room she asked me to go through an adjacent door and take all my clothes off - which I did.
A few minutes later Tanya had returned and apprised me of the rules: no kissing and no exchange of bodily fluids - fair enough.
She'd then removed her slip over her head and had told me to lie down upon the bed. I'd then heard her pick up the cane, about three feet in length, and awaited, with some trepidation, the first stroke. "I'm going to start gently then gradually whack you harder."
"Okay," I'd said.
She did as she promised and after about ten strokes she was really bringing the cane down with some force across my bare buttocks - it had begun to really sting. I was also achingly stiff and needed to fuck her. After a couple more whacks I'd asked her to stop.
I'd then turned over onto my back whilst she had picked up a condom from a dish she had kept on the side and had handed it to me. I'd opened the packet pulled it out and then rolled it over my cock.
When I'd done that she told me that she wanted me to go on top. She then lay down next to me whilst I mounted and penetrated her. As I did I wondered how she could remain damp and accommodating all day long.
I then requested her to rub my nipples whilst I began to thrust. There was no doubt that she was beautiful: deep blue eyes, shapely tits, golden tan - and worth every penny.
As we had fucked she had told me that I was a good looking fella with beautiful eyes. The remark had me feel good but I suspected she had flattered all her clients.
It didn't take long for me to climax. And that was that. I got dressed, gave her a peck on the cheek and thanked her before leaving.
After I had emerged into the daylight I had felt elated with, strangely, not an ounce of shame.
I had then popped down to the shops, had a coffee and a sandwich before setting out on the journey back.
Later that evening I had gone round to see Sharon. Still on a high and aroused by the afternoon's events I had suggested an 'early night'.
"Not really in the mood, thanks," she had responded.
I'd thought: Always in a mood, actually. But didn't say it.
Despite that we lasted nearly another six years - another six years of ups and downs and highs and lows - but the truth is that my actions that day had changed us, or rather me, irrevocably, and underneath things could never be the same again.